Pre-Launch Activities

An effective marketing campaign for an iPhone app doesn’t start at launch. It starts as soon as possible. Remember, we were even considering marketing aspects way back during the preliminary review. Plus, it is never too soon to spread your message and build your brand. You can generate awareness that you are building an app from the earliest stage. You can also start to network with first adopters in your market who can act as advocates for your app as you get closer to launch.

What Makes Your App so Great?

It’s important to maintain perspective when you are marketing any product. Your app’s purpose and value are probably very clear to you. After all, you’ve been deep in development for some time. You know this app like the back of your hand. Your potential customers, however, have not been wrapped up in development. They don’t even know your app exists. They don’t know the app’s features and functions. They won’t intuitively understand why your app is so great. It’s up to you (your marketing) to let them in on the ‘secret’…so it won’t stay a secret.

Any communication you have with app shoppers will be fleeting. You have to effectively communicate your most important sales points in as little time and with as few words as possible. For that reason, it’s worthwhile to take a step back from development and look at the app through a neutral lens. That’s easier said than done, but if you can look at your product objectively your message will be stronger.

To do this, let’s return to some of the basics-what and who.

The App’s Value:
This seems silly, right? You know your app has value. Fine – explain it. Better yet, explain it in one sentence. That’s the challenge. You need to be able to convey your app’s value in a single succinct statement. Let’s look at an example. Assume you’re an avid runner and you’re browsing the health and fitness apps for your iPhone (and there are a lot of them). You come across an app called RunKeeper.

Look carefully at the first two sentences of the app description:

“Join the more than 17 million people who are using RunKeeper to turn their phone into a personal trainer in their pocket! Track your running, walking, cycling, hiking, biking, and more using the GPS in your iPhone.”

RunKeeper - GPS Track for running, walking and cycling

Prospects should be able the grasp your app message within a few moments

Is there any question about what the app does? Is there any ambiguity? No. It’s as clear as day.

Once you distill your value down to one clear statement, you can repeat that phrase in any communication – the app store, Twitter, Facebook, your website copy, press releases-even in conversation with your Aunt May at Thanksgiving dinner. It should be a repeatable phrase you can rattle off at the drop of a hat…

“Your building an app? What kind?”

“It’s an iPhone app that uses the device’s GPS to track your running, walking, cycling, hiking, biking, and other activities.”

If you’re stuck on how to differentiate yourself and express value, take some time to look around the app store. Make a list of your competitors and the apps most comparable to yours. Next to each app, list your app’s advantages and disadvantages. Are there any advantages that appear over and over again on the list? Those are items you want to hit in your value statement.

The App’s Customers:

How can you tell potential buyers how great your app is if you don’t know who the potential buyers are? Yes, there are some broad-based apps that appeal to everyone. Angry Birds is as popular with kids as it is with grandmothers. Most apps, however, appeal to a specific subset of people; people who live within a few hours of Wichita who like to fish, for example. In reality, having such a narrow demographic would make marketing difficult, so hopefully, your app has a broader appeal.

The RunKeeper app, for example, has a broad market. It is not regionally focused and covers a wide range of activities. People around the country around the world, even-like to run, jog, walk, bike, or hike. But how many want to keep a record of their activity? Just like the work we did to understand the market in considering financial viability in the preliminary stage, the key is to drill down to the group of people likely to be enthusiastic about your app. It doesn’t mean these are the only people who will buy. It just means these are the people most likely to buy immediately and most likely to tell their friends who have the same interests. Instead of estimating rough numbers, you need to think of these groups in terms of motivations, benefits, and such on in order to know how to reach out to them in your marketing message.

We also want to consider how to reach them in terms of medium and methods as well. If we created a budgeting app, how would we find people who are keenly focused on budgeting? They probably read blogs on budgeting and personal finance. The writers of those blogs are probably on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. With just a little research and some proactive networking, you could convey your message to the influencers in your niche with laser focus. Or you use these sites for direct on-line advertising. We’ll discuss this in greater detail as we progress through the chapter.

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